The Washington Redskins came a long way in a short time this past season, going from a non-contender to earning themselves a spot in the playoffs, and all it took was a rookie quarterback in Robert Griffin III. That same rookie quarterback took home the AP Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
But Washington had another player who should have been a candidate for the award: running back Alfred Morris. The combination of Morris and Griffin turned out to be an explosive combination, and going forward the pair should have that offense be among the most feared in the league.
Provided, of course, that Griffin comes back healthy. Unfortunately, Griffin tore his ACL and LCL in a playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and his recovery window is still in question. Still, the team should probably look to boosting its defense this offseason, to help out Griffin, Morris and the rest of the offense, as it's the perceived weak spot.
Biggest need: Safety
The Redskins badly need some help at the safety position. In fact, the whole secondary is in shambles. They were No. 30 in the league against the pass in 2012, allowing 281.9 passing yards per game. Contrast that with the fact that they were the NFL's No. 5 rushing defense, and we have a clear picture of their need.
Madieu Williams' best years are behind him and they weren't even that good to begin with. He's scheduled to be a free agent in March and it would be surprising if the Redskins actually brought him back.
Brandon Meriweather is the other guy, but he's always injured and his best days are also behind him. Not only is safety the biggest need for the Redskins, they need two of them this offseason, whether from free agency or the NFL Draft.
The folks over at Hogs Haven gave a list of their top team needs for the Redskins this offseason:
- London Fletcher hasn't decided whether he's coming back or not and his backup is a Free Agent.
- The Redskins did not tag Fred Davis as expected. That means they'll likely need to sign or draft a TE.
- The Redskins need starting safeties (as in plural) and a CB. DHall is scheduled to make a TON of $ next year...so he needs to restructure or get cut.
- Right Tackle: Tyler Polumbus graded out horribly by Pro Football Focus. They need to draft or sign one there.
Other needs: Cornerback, right tackle
As noted, the Redskins had one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL in 2012. Only two teams were worse in that regard, so clearly a couple safeties won't fix the full problem. Josh Wilson is alright, DeAngelo Hall has clearly lost a step and could be a cap casuality, and Cedric Griffin is set to hit free agency. The Redskins sorely need to bring in another cornerback.
At right tackle, Jammal Brown is consistently injured and his backup, Tyler Polumbus, has played terribly. The Redskins were constantly giving up pressure from the right side and it comes from that spot. Depending on Brown's health going forward would not be a smart move for Washington.
NFL Draft outlook: Redskins without a first round pick
The Redskins traded their first round pick (well, multiple first round picks) to the St. Louis Rams so they could draft Griffin. Provided the young quarterback can get healthy, the trade will have been worth it, but it means they won't be able to get a crack at one of the top 32 players in the nation unless they make a trade.
Fortunately, they do have all of their picks in rounds two through seven, and have an extra fifth rounder on top of that. They'll likely look to take advantage of the strong defensive back class to get someone like that in the second round.
Salary Cap situation: Let's just say it's "not good"
The Redskins are still fighting cap penalties from last year. The team was over the cap and didn't do anything about it, so they were penalized $36 million in salary cap space. Half of that was applied to 2012 and the other half was applied to 2013, meaning their cap space is about $103 million for 2013 instead of $121 million.
On top of that, the Redskins' salaries for 2013 are reportedly over that $103 million number, so the team definitely need to make some moves to get under the cap and be able to bring in free agents and sign their draft picks. Among the moves, could include the release of Hall to circumvent his $8 million cap hit for the 2013 season.